Saira Blair is one election away from becoming the youngest person ever seated to the West Virginia House. The 17 year old beat Republican Larry Kump by 150 votes in the Eastern Panhandle primary.
Midterm turnout for the primary vote was low. Close to 1,600 votes were cast for the West Virginia 59th House District seat. The 67 year old Kump admitted to being out campaigned by Blair. He also admitted that the low voter turnout was the reason she won and not his use of Dr. Seuss rhymes to House bills he considered to be government intrusion.
Blair could not vote for herself in the recent primary. She turns 18 in July. West Virginia does allow any resident who will be 18 before an election to run for a House seat. Should Blair win in November, she will become the youngest person ever elected to the West Virginia House. The current record is held by Larry Swan. He was elected in 1972 at the age of 20.
The soft spoken candidate matches that of her Eastern Panhandle community. The church going Blair is pro-family, pro-life, pro-gun, and pro-business. She said the voters saw that someone did not have to be older to be considered electable. Conservative principals benefit everyone she said in her acceptance speech.
Her family comes from a political background. Craig Blair, her father, is a state senator. He once ran for the House seat his daughter now seeks. While growing up, he kept his daughter to a curfew. Provided she performs to the best of her ability, he has never made rules of her.
With one more campaign that would make Blair the youngest person ever elected to the state House of Delegates, she plans to attend West Virginia University after she graduates from Hedgesville High School. She plans to study both Spanish and economics with finance being her field of expertise.
During the primary friends at her high school class waved signs at polling places. Blair convinced a few of her classmates to register and vote. Her campaign had a $4,900 war chest and a $2,300 loan. Her opponent Kump only spent $1,840 during the primary.
Since the 6th grade, Blair attended GOP meetings with her father. She has volunteered with various Republican groups. Her commitment to politics overrode the need to attend her senior prom. Instead, Blair participated in a Youth in Government meeting in Charleston.
Blair faces Layne Diehl, a 44 year old Democrat lawyer. He was impressed that she won the primary. He said Blair has taken on the challenge of winning her state seat and finds her a worthy opponent for the November election.
Should she be elected to Congress in November, Blair will skip spring classes and take her seat in the West Virginia House. The two year position pays $20,000 annual, plus per diem. Between her fall classes, Blair will campaign for the 59 District House seat. Should the teenager defeat Diehl in November, Blair will make history by becoming the youngest person ever elected to the West Virginia House.
By Brian T. Yates